Trump bickers with Dem leaders, threatens gov’t shutdown

WASHINGTON (AP) — Bickering in public with Democratic leaders, President Donald Trump threatened repeatedly on Tuesday to shut down the government if Congress doesn’t provide the money he says is needed to build a wall at the Mexican border.

Trump’s comments came as he opened a contentious meeting with Democratic Senate and House leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, with partial shutdown looming on Dec. 21 when funding for some agencies will expire. The president and Pelosi tangled over whether the House or the Senate was holding up his proposal. Trump and Schumer jabbed at each other over the import of the midterm elections — and who will be blamed if a shutdown occurs.

“If we don’t get what we want, one way or the other, whether it’s through you, through military, through anything you want to call, I will shut down the government,” Trump ultimately declared. “I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down.”

The televised discussion was Trump’s first encounter with the newly empowered Democrats since their midterm victories in the House. It offered a remarkable public preview of how divided government might work — or break down — over the next two years as the 2020 presidential election nears.

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